Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective sparse differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of sparse are meager, scanty, scant, skimpy, and spare. While all these words mean "falling short of what is normal, necessary, or desirable," sparse implies a thin scattering of units.

a sparse population

When might meager be a better fit than sparse?

Although the words meager and sparse have much in common, meager implies the absence of elements, qualities, or numbers necessary to a thing's richness, substance, or potency.

a meager portion of meat

In what contexts can scant take the place of sparse?

The words scant and sparse are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, scant suggests a falling short of what is desired or desirable rather than of what is essential.

in January the daylight hours are scant

When is it sensible to use scanty instead of sparse?

While in some cases nearly identical to sparse, scanty stresses insufficiency in amount, quantity, or extent.

supplies too scanty to last the winter

When could skimpy be used to replace sparse?

The meanings of skimpy and sparse largely overlap; however, skimpy usually suggests niggardliness or penury as the cause of the deficiency.

tacky housing developments on skimpy lots

Where would spare be a reasonable alternative to sparse?

In some situations, the words spare and sparse are roughly equivalent. However, spare may suggest a slight falling short of adequacy or merely an absence of superfluity.

a spare, concise style of writing

Thesaurus Entries Near sparse

Cite this Entry

“Sparse.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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